by Byron Hurd. Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company.
Price as tested: $28,480 (Incl. $850 destination charge). Major equipment: Premium trim level (Base price: $26,845), 6-Speed Automatic Transmission ($995), 3.31 Rear Axle Ratio ($395), Security Package ($395).
In the fleet: May 2010
~300 horsepower. ~3500lbs. High 13s in the 1/4 mile. Sound familiar? They probably did to the Z28 owner sitting next to me at the stop light.
What didn’t sound familiar to my newfound neighbor was the bark of the 3.7L VVT Duratec V6 coming from a chromed dual exhaust treatment. While a 2011 Mustang V6 is virtually indistinguishable from a 2010 from the front (a view I saw him evaluating in his side-view mirror as I rolled to a stop in the left lane), the rear end gives the only two reliable hints as to what rests between the front strut towers.
And what lay there gave my fourth-gen friend quite a scare.
In front of us, our three-lane surface street narrowed into a two-lane, limited-access highway. It was me, the Z, and some anonymous import to his right. Three cars. Two lanes. One sick game of musical chairs.
When the light turned green, the tachs turned red; our import companion quickly removed himself from the equation as two American motoring icons reared back on their live axles and tore after the fast-approaching merge zone in a shameless display of society-shattering, testosterone-fueled misbehavior.
It takes about six seconds to travel from the stop box to the “time writer” official at a NASA Mid-Atlantic autocross (or “NASA-X”). If you’re in it to win it, those six seconds are excruciating. What should really be a short time might as well be an hour-long debriefing. Six. What did I screw up that time? Five.Did that wobbler back at the offset box fall over? Four. Did I tap one in that second slalom? Three. Does Jon Felton hate Miatas? Two.
But this time, I don’t give a damn. I’m not playing for keeps. Brian, this heat’s time writer, is smiling and shaking his head as he leans in to his radio. He writes it on a post-it note and reaches out toward my driver-side window as I roll up. “You are consistent.” He tells me, laughing. I know what that means before I take the slip from him.
That’s a healthy six seconds off what would be my normal pace for a course this size. I normally peak mid-way through my session, and if I’ve settled to a 67.49 on run four, it’s pretty much a given that I’m not going to improve much from here. So why the lack of concern? Simple. Today, I’m not driving a Mazdaspeed3 or an RX-8 or a NA Miata. I’m not even driving our Focus.
I’m driving a 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour. And let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like hanging out the ass end of a 4100lb hatchback-on-stilts.